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    Prop. 37 Defeated

    Most in the industry support the decision; some still argue for transparency

    California grocers are cheering the rejection of California’s controversial Proposition 37, which would have mandated genetically engineered foods sold in Golden State supermarkets to be labeled as such.

    “GMA and its member companies are pleased that California voters have rejected Proposition 37,” said Grocery Manufacturers Association. “Proposition 37 would have resulted in higher food costs, lawsuits, and increased state bureaucracies. This is a big win for California consumers, taxpayers, businesses and farmers. Foods and beverages that contain genetically engineered ingredients have been exhaustively studied and all of the leading scientific and regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), US Department of Agriculture, the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, have concluded that these products are safe and are not materially different than their traditional counterparts.”

    "Food labeling policy should be based on logic and science, not fear,” added Henry I. Miller, M.D., a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology (1989-1993). “Leading scientific organizations have all agreed that foods containing genetically engineered ingredients are safe and are not materially different from their traditional counterparts. "

    According to Ronald Fong, president and CEO of the California Grocers Association, grocery retailers would have been hit the hardest by passage of Prop. 37, through lawsuits and higher costs.  "These costs would have been passed on to consumers in the form of higher grocery bills,” he said.

    Not all grocers agree. Sam Mogannam, owner of San Francisco-based Bi-Rite Market, was in favor of Prop. 37, because he believes a grocer should provide complete transparency in the foods offered to consumers.

    "I've owned Bi-Rite Market for 15 years and I supported Yes on 37 to label genetically engineered foods," Mogannam told Progressive Grocer. "As a grocer, it is imperative that I know as much as I can about the food I sell to ensure that our customers continue to TRUST us and the food we sell. If grocery stores care about their customers and the health of their children, like I do, they would support labeling and more transparency in our food system.

    "History has proven that we cannot trust Big Ag and their chemical company partners to be honest with the American people and to be concerned about our health and the health of our environment. We all deserve to know what is in the food we eat. Fifty nations around the world already have labeling laws in place for this reason."

    This issue not political, Mogannam stresses. It is about basic rights. "It is about our right to know what we put in our bodies and into the bodies of our children. Prop 37 won by a narrow margin, yet outspent the YES coalition 9 to 1, with a campaign based on deceit and lies. So much misinformation flooded voters that many were so confused they did not even realize what the issue was. Before the initiative made it on the ballot, 90% of Americans polled confirmed their desire to know what they are eating. Big Food and Big Chemical spent close to $50 million to preserve their ability to continue experimenting on us and the land we live on. It is only a matter of time before Americans have had enough and approve labeling on a national scale—a day I look forward to happening soon."

    Martin Good win, owner of Goodwin's Organics, Riverside, Calif., agrees: "In the our grocery industry our shoppers' money is more important than our shoppers' health," he said, referring to those in the industry against Prop 37.

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